Why? Well it all starts, of course, with Mark Sanchez, who basically told all the critics to keep quiet by having a stellar 21-of-30, 220-yard, three touchdown day against the Patriots. Every sub-par performance would surely have increased the cynicism directed at the second-year pro, but Sanchez seemed impervious to it, evoking memories of last season's playoffs by demonstrating his adeptness rolling out.
Braylon Edwards was just as efficient, but watered down all the excitement over his most recent performance by getting arrested and charged with DWI early Tuesday morning. He'll still be in action this week, but he won't start. One would think Edwards will still see the field plenty, though, as Rex Ryan is smart enough to realize that keeping Edwards on the bench could very likely move he and Sanchez back under the microscope (not by disciplining Edwards, but by losing to Miami).
The injury to Darrelle Revis' hamstring doesn't seem to be a life-or-death type of issue for the New York defense, which has been spot-on in its first two outings, and seems to believe in rookie Kyle Wilson a great deal. Miami's Brandon Marshall is arguably the best at his position in the NFL, but even if he has a productive game, it could be more essential that the Jets stop Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams from gaining too much steam on the ground.
Statistically, these teams don't seem too far apart, and the Jets don't appear to have retained any negative psychological effects from their season opener. Even the banged-up defense just keeps rolling. Like many Jets-Dolphins games of the past, this one could be a classic.
THREE KEYS TO A JETS WIN
1. Stop the run!
No one is confusing Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams with Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson, but they can both do damage if they aren't properly defended. Discipline from the Jets' linebackers and the ability of the injury-ravaged D-line to hold its own up front will be of the utmost importance.
2. "Play to win the game"
Herm isn't the coach in New York anymore, but his most famous utterance still applies. The Jets faltered against Baltimore largely due to being over-conservative. Sanchez showed that he can put the ball in the air, and 28 points is more than enough for the Jets to win – except for last year in Miami when the Dolphins put up 21 points on New York in the fourth quarter. Expecting the defense to pitch shutouts and hoping to win on field goals is a recipe for disaster.
3. Shut down Miami's "Bess" receiver
Shutting down Brandon Marshall is both highly unlikely and worth far too much effort. A 100-yard day by Marshall isn't going to be what beats New York. However, making him the ONLY receiving threat downfield would be wise. Between Lowery and Antonio Cromartie, the elimination of Davone Bess by just one defender leaves ten others to worry about Marshall and the running backs.
THREE KEYS TO A DOLPHINS WIN
1. What can Brown do for you?
Again, Ronnie Brown is not normally grouped with the league's elite backs, but he is as diverse and capable as any you'll find. He is a monster out of the wildcat and is good enough in the open field to pick up big gains if he gets past the line. A big day by Brown would surely go hand-in-hand with a win for Miami
2. Make sure the Fish don't bite
Mark Sanchez is elite in one regard: in executing play action. He has a good ball fake and seems to see his receivers better when out of the pocket. Discipline in the Miami secondary and linebacking corps can offset this skill, and reduce Sanchez's effect—and confidence—significantly.
3. Keep an eye on Keller
Dustin Keller's role may increase this week thanks to the potential limitations on how much time Braylon Edwards is on the field. He is a tough matchup for any defense, although certainly not to a degree that is beyond Miami's ability to address.
Winning really does cure everything. For the Jets, last week's victory over New England not only kept them from a disastrous 0-2 record, but also allowed them to get over the mental hurdles of Sanchez's struggles and their opening night shortcomings. On paper, these teams look pretty even, but the Jets are flying high, and that won't likely stop this Sunday.